library assets

The Library assets are made up of a number of groups of documents distributed as follows:

Reading Room
Book Collections
Electronic Resources
Special Collections

The Library’s holdings are divided into sections by subject and cover the most important fields of Islamic sciences and other fields of interest:

Qur’an, Qur’anic Exegesis, Sunna (Prophetic Tradition), Law, Theology and Philosophy, Mysticism, History and Geography, Linguistics and Literature, Sciences, Art and Architecture, Ethnology, Anthropology, Contemporary Islam, Bio-bibliography, Sacred Scripture and Christian Theology, and Interreligious Dialogue.

Currently the Library holds about 40,000 volumes, half of which are in Arabic, 900 journals, 250 of which rare or extinct, 30 fine editions, and 30 Arabic manuscripts kept at the Vatican Library.

Particularly relevant are the sections dedicated to the Qur’an – with various editions and translations of Islam’s sacred book, the great classical commentaries, and numerous thematic studies – and to the Sunna, with the most important collections of sayings or deeds of Muḥammad.

The Library is regularly enhanced by the acquisition of important texts and of periodicals obtained through subscription or by exchange for PISAI publications; in recent years, a number of interesting collections have been bequeathed to the Library, including the Borrmans Collection, the Basso Collection, the Cerbella Collection, the Faragalla Collection, and the Horsten Collection.

Thanks to the work of PISAI’s own students, a further 350 monographic studies containing translated passages from about 150 Arabic texts are included in the Library’s collection.


Reading room

At the disposal of its visitors, the Reading Room contains essential tools for study and research in the Arabic language and the Islamic sciences: dictionaries, grammar books, encyclopaedias in various languages, historical and literary works covering the Arab-Muslim world, classical works of reference in Islamic Studies (Brockelmann, Caetani, Wensinck…) and atlases. The Qur’an Section, with several translations and some of the main Qur’an commentaries, and the Shiism Section, with important works from the Shiite tradition, are particularly utilized by researchers here.

In a wall display, the latest issues of the periodicals and newly catalogued acquisitions can be consulted. Users have easy access to the index of the theses presented by PISAI students and to the index of periodicals.

WIFI internet access is available in the room. Three computer terminals are available to consult PISAI’s library catalogue, which is always available for all users online.

Furthermore, on-site users have the possibility of accessing a number of electronic resources, including numerous specialised journals to which the Library subscribes, online access to the Second and Third Editions of Brill’s Encyclopaedia of Islam, and other resources.

Library users may copy a portion of Library materials within the limit of Copyright Law, for the purpose of private study or research.

See the Catalogue of the Reading Room


Access to the Library’s contents can be obtained by consulting our catalogue on one of the computers in the Reading Room or through PISAI’s website.

The catalogue provides general bibliographic data and the reference number of individual works. Information can also be found on the special collections, as well as the detailed referencing of all the articles which have appeared in PISAI publications.

Books and publications marked with the letter R are displayed on open shelves in the Reading Room and are directly accessible. All other material, whether books or periodicals, is marked with the different classification letters and can be consulted on request by completing the appropriate request slip at the circulation desk.

For further information please call 0658392613 during opening hours.

See the catalogue online


The PISAI Library collection holds more than 900 periodicals, 250 of which rare or extinct.
About 200 are current journals which the Library receives in exchange for PISAI publications, by subscription, or as gifts. The vast majority of these periodicals cover PISAI’s area of specialization. In addition to publications in Western languages, some are in Arabic, Persian and Turkish.

Users have direct access to the latest issues which are displayed in the Reading Room. Previous issues can be consulted on request by completing the appropriate request slip at the circulation desk.

See the PISAI Periodicals Search Engine
See the National Periodicals Archive

Electronic Resources

The Library makes available from the Reading Room access to licensed e-resources:

Encyclopaedia of Islam

African and Asian Studies

Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies
Die Welt des Islam

il dialogo al-hiwâr

Intellectual History of Islamicate World

International Journal of Middle East Studies
Islam and Civilisational Renewal
Islamic Law and Society
Journal of Arabic Literature

Journal of the Econonomic and Social History of the Orient

Journal of Islamic Studies
Journal of Semitic Studies
Le Monde diplomatique 
Pro Dialogo
Review of Middle East Studies
Shii Studies Review

Sociology of Islam

Studia Islamica
The Muslim World

Open Access resources

al-Markaz al-Islāmī li-l-Dirāsāt al-Istrātīǧiyya
Arabic Poems

Archivi in DSpace
Centro Amilcar Cabral
Collectanea Christiana Orientale
Commission africaine des droits de l'homme et des peuples
Coran 12-21
DOAB Directory of Open Access Books
DOAJ  Directory of Open Access Journals
Index Theologicus
Institut des manuscrits arabes
International Society for Islamic Legal Studies (ISILS)
Istituto per gli Studi di Politica Internazionale
MIAS Latina (Muhyiddin Ibn Arabi Society Latina)
Middle East Medievalists
Mu‘ǧam al-babāṭīn li-šu‘arā’ al-‘arabiyya
OAPEN Open Access Publishing in European Networks
OpenEdition Books
Orient XXI
Osservatorio delle Libertà ed Istituzioni Religiose
Philosophers of the Arabs
Portail Persée
Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy Archive

Al-Qasemi Journal of Islamic Studies
al-ʿUsur al-Wusta: The Journal of Middle East Medievalists
Annali Ca' Foscari
Annali di Studi Religiosi

Annuaire de l'Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes. Résumé des conférences et travaux
Arablit quotidiani e periodici dal mondo arabo
Australian Journal of Islamic Studies

Bulletin Critique des Annales Islamologiques
Cahiers d’Asie Centrale
DPCE Online
El Azufre Rojo
European Journal of Islamic Finance

Fikrun wa Fann
Full Open Access Journals (Brill)

Glossarium Graeco-Arabicum
Hommes & Migrations  texte intégral : n. 1277(2009) – n. 1314(2016)
International Journal for Religious Freedom

Journal of Arabic and Islamic Studies
Journal of Interreligious Studies

Journal of Islamic Ethics
L'Islam au XXIème siècle
Maǧalla al-Šarīʻa wa al-Dirāsāt al-Islāmiyya
Oxford Academic
Revista del Instituto Egipcio de Estudios Islamicos en Madrid
Rivista di Studi Indo Mediterranei
Quranica. International Journal of Quranic Research
Sharq al-Andalus

Studia Graeco-Arabica
Studia Orientalia Electronica

Special collections

undefinedBorrmans Collection
Maurice Borrmans, M.Afr. (1925-2017) dedicated much of his life to the study of Arabic and Islam, with a particular interest in Islamic law. From 1964 to 2004 he taught at PISAI, during which time he founded the journal Islamochristiana and directed it from 1975 until 2004.
The Borrmans collection includes about 1000 titles on a wide range of material, but particularly concerned with interreligious dialogue and knowledge of Islam. In addition to works on Islamic philosophy, law, spirituality and Sufism, texts on geopolitics and sociology of religions, a large part of the collection concerns important figures in the history of Muslim-Christian dialogue: Charles de Foucauld, Louis Massignon, Andrea Santoro, Pietro Rossano and others; many texts are dedicated to the spirituality of religions, with particular attention to prayer, mysticism and sacred texts. A section of the collection includes Qur’anic and Biblical texts, with various translations and commentaries, studies of linguistics and literature, and Arabic grammars.
In recognition of Maurice Borrmans’ years-long commitment to PISAI and as a sign of affection for him, the Library of the Institute was dedicated to his memory on 17 February 2018.

undefinedBasso Collection
The Lelio and Leslie Basso Foundation came into being in Rome in 1973, the result of the amalgamation of the rich private library of Lelio Basso, a collection brought together during the time of his political and cultural activities, and the Institute for the Study of Contemporary Society created in the second half of the 1960s. The collection specializes in the study of historical, juridical, political and sociological sciences, with particular attention being given to the sources.
The collection contains books and periodicals in Arabic concerning the history of modern and contemporary political thought and that of the migrations of peoples, especially in the North African region.

fondo-cerbella-pisai.jpgCerbella Collection
The collection contains some 500 titles of great interest for orientalist and ethnographic research regarding the situation in Africa during the colonial period, especially in Libya and Ethiopia; it deals with the direct personal reports of the researcher whose field of interest lay in the traditions and customs of the region, as well as the anthropology and the cultural and religious development of the colonial and post-colonial period. The collection is also enhanced with numerous extracts from articles, documents and correspondence, as well as manuscripts of this scholarly researcher.

fondo-faragalla-pisai.jpgFaragalla Collection
The collection, containing more than 200 most useful books for the study of Arabic literature and the history of religions, was given to PISAI by the two brothers of Prof. Sameh Faragalla, Sarwat and Michel.
Of Egyptian origin, Professor Sameh Faragalla, lecturer in Arabic at La Sapienza University in Rome, taught at PISAI from 1979 to 2009, devoting himself to presenting and analysing the Arabic press and to the study of recorded texts used by the Institute as a valid teaching tool. The academic guidance he gave and the quality of his presence were greatly appreciated by the students of PISAI.

fondo-horsten-pisai.jpgHorsten Collection
The Horsten Collection reflects the research and the areas of interest of Fr. Piet Horsten, M.Afr. (1936-2018), who was a member of the teaching staff of PISAI and where he also held the office of Chief Librarian.
After completing his studies for the priesthood, Piet Horsten studied Ancient Greek and Latin at the University of Nijmegen, enriching this classical base with general notions of linguistics and a theological approach to cultures and religions. He obtained a doctorate from the SOAS University of London in 1978 with a concentration in linguistic anthropology. His studies led him to develop a deeper interest in translation, especially the translation of the Bible from Greek into Latin and subsequently to a broader study of the relation between religions and languages.


The Library also has in its possession the work of students presented to fulfil the requirements at the conclusion of their course of study at PISAI:

Licentiate in Arabic and Islamic Studies
Doctorate in Arabic and Islamic Studies

The Licentiate Thesis is a work of methodological and critical analysis of an Arabic text; this comprises the translation of a previously untranslated text from Arabic into a Western language. Copies of the theses are kept by the Library and made available as material for study, although they remain under the restrictions applied to ‘non-published material’. The Library contains more than 350 PISAI licentiate theses.

The Doctoral Thesis requires the student to produce a scientific piece of research which will make a substantial and original contribution to the field of research. More than 25 PISAI doctoral theses are housed in the Library.

The Library also boasts a collection of Licentiate and Doctoral Theses not obtained at the Institute but pertinent to the field of research. These theses are often offered by undergraduate and postgraduate students who, in researching and writing up their work, have consulted the library of PISAI.

See the index of the licentiate theses

See the index of the doctoral theses



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